Intel Corp., Weyerhaeuser Co. and Merck & Co. ranked highest, respectively, in their handling of environmental issues based on a new rating system created by Soyka & Co. and IW Financial.

The Governance and Environmental Management Strength (GEMS) Rating looks at 49 indicators to evaluate a company's ability to anticipate and manage environmental issues that pose risks and opportunities for their operations, the firms say.

The other companies in the top 10 based on their GEMS rating were Lexmark International Inc., Ford Motor Co., Dell Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Xcel Energy Inc., Owens Corning and Xerox Corp.

The study included 962 firms in the Russell 1000 that were scored on a 100-point scale. Intel, with 82 points, received the highest rating among the companies studied. Nearly half, or 448, scored less than 10.

Companies with the highest ratings tended to be in the consumer staples, materials and utilities sectors. Firms in the real estate, services and telecommunications sectors typically disclosed the least environmental expertise or activity.

Soyka & Company LLC is an environmental and sustainability management consulting firm. IW Financial provides environmental, social and governance (ESG) research, consulting and portfolio management.